The Face in the Mirror, Part I

There's a reason that there's a mirror behind the bar. Most think it's for some sort of aesthetic purpose, but in all honesty, its sole purpose was a rather simple one:

So you could see just how deep you were swimming in liquid obliviate.

Ciaren knew this, of course. It's why he never made eye contact with anything past the bald bartender's head.

As he nursed his sixth or seventh (alright, his tenth) pint of heavy, he purposefully kept his eyes down. The wood of the bar -- polished, shining, marred by an eternity's worth of scratches and fingerprints -- was a far better focus than the face he knew he'd meet on the other side of the bar.

So he was a chicken. Moments like these were the only times he'd admit it. Drinking alone, almost closing time, the jazz band in the corner slowly working through their last set... Yes, he was a chicken. Wouldn't look at his own damn reflection because he knew what he'd find. It was the same thing he always saw.

The face of some poor sod that had cocked it all up.

Excuse him if he didn't exactly enjoy coming face to face with his screw ups. Only human, right?

Inevitably, though, he'd have to meet the bastard's eyes, and when that happened... Well, he'd order a pint to go and stumble home to his flat, self-loathing pouring off of him in waves tidal enough to deter any other midnight vagabonds. And back in the sanctity of his own place he'd let it take over, just this once for the millionth time. He'd let himself think about what he'd done.

He'd let himself regret it.

He'd let himself see her face, when she had smiled and laughed. When she'd lived and breathed for the happiness they'd created together...

He'd let himself remember the days, sunlit or snowy...

He'd succumb to the rush of the nights, open those tightly locked flood gates and let it all drown him. The feel of her, the taste, the way she'd danced beneath him...

He'd dare to imagine that once-bright future, the thought of being with her forever, of the memories they'd sworn to make...

He'd hate himself, loathe and berate and tear himself apart for what he'd done to her. For the promises he'd broken, for the dreams he'd destroyed.

And the next day, he'd put it all away again, and keep on hurting her like he didn't have a care in the world. Like she no longer existed in his memory.

Like he'd never let the monster that was his heart out of its cage.

He's left her after promises of being together again. He's left her for another girl. Sometimes, when he wakes up in the middle of the night, he wonders for a moment why there's the wrong girl in his bed.

(A/N: Part II following)